Shoe Column: Special Stevens Point Streets
By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
I’ve got a question for you. Does any street or avenue in Stevens Point have a special meaning to you?
Do you have a favorite street? Does one stand out? Is there a Point street that provides a fond memory to you? Perhaps a landmark? Maybe the street that you live on? Surely you must have a street or two that stands out.
There are several streets in our fine city that bring back memories for me. I might as well start with Water Street. I’ve lived on Water Street all my life. I will never forget Lincoln School, Altenburg’s Dairy, the Point Brewery, Pagel Mill, Kellogg’s Lumber, or the A&W root beer stand way down on the north end.
Then there’s Elk Street. The Elk Street Hill races. Basketball in Jensen’s driveway. Model T cars in Woody Keene’s yard. Or how about Brawley Street? Playing basketball in cousin Tom Frymark’s driveway. Hanging around with Rhody Jakusz across the street. Shooting peashooters with Billy Grubba. Playing “Babe Ruth” baseball for SSBA with Jim Duggan. Playing APBA football with Mike “George” Glodosky. All of those guys lived on Brawley.
Dixon St. reminds me of the old carnivals and Point Bowl. I was in a Pacelli bowling league when Point Bowl was pretty new. We had to beat one team to win first place. They had a freshman named Frank. He told us he was new to bowling and wanted some advice.
We told Frank that just before he rolled his ball, he should eat some potato chips. The oil would help the bowling ball’s spin. So Frank ate some chips and the ball slipped out of his hands and landed in the gutter. He rolled a bunch of gutter balls. We won.
Speaking of Pacelli, Portage St. comes to mind. I was in the marching band for one year, although I couldn’t play a single note on the clarinet. They gave me a uniform that was 10 sizes too big.
So we’re marching down Portage St. playing “76 Trombones” just like in “Music Man” I’m trying to read my notes (not that I could anyways) and I kept tripping on my pants and almost fell down a manhole. The whole band turned north on some street. I turned south and marched straight home, thus ending my marching band career.
I can never go on Maria Dr. without thinking about Romie’s Rendezvous and the Flame next door. By the way, Pacelli High is on Maria now. The building used to be Maria High when Pacelli was on Division Street where the YMCA is now.
Oak Street’s only claim to fame is that Clark Pinzer’s ex-girlfriend used to live in a big college house there. She had a great backyard swimming pool. She also had an aquarium which held one (1) pirahna.
So we’re over there and I look into the aquarium and ask, “What’s that?” It looked like a bluegill with big teeth.
Clark said, “That’s a piranha. Watch this…” He went to the fridge, brought out a hot dog, and put it into the tank. Nothing happened. I laughed like hell. Then he put his hand in there to take out the wiener and…
…it wasn’t pretty.
Prais St. rhymes with Rice Street. I shudder every time I’m on Prais Street. While in high school, I agreed to attempt to help some buddies put some roof shingles on a house on Prais Street. Bad idea.
First of all, how can I say this? Imagine the steepest roof that comes to mind, steep and very high. That’s the roof that we were on. After getting to the top, barely, I hung on for dear life. Didn’t pound a single nail. It was hotter than hell and I’m at the very peak way up there. And then I look down at the other side. Right there in the backyard, just hoping someone would fall off the roof, was a pit bull with a head the size of a huge watermelon. And it was licking its chops.
I got right off of that roof and never drove past that house again.
The only thing that comes to mind about Prairie St. is that Harvey Giese and Prune Kinney lived on it.
Before it was in the mall, Dave Koch Sports was on Isadore Street. I used to buy many baseball cards there.
My first paper route was on Spruce Street. You never forget stuff like that. Ed Richter, my boss at the Stevens Point Journal, politely called me in one day and asked that I stop throwing papers on people’s roofs. It was nice of Ed to give me a warning. Great guy.
I also liked to play outdoor basketball on Roy Menzel’s driveway on Pine Street. Great fun.
Stanley St. reminds me of Partner’s Pub when Randy Wievel and future NBA ref Blaine “Goose” Reichelt lived above the bar. What a pair. Darren of Wilshire Trailors is also on Stanley. My 1966 Honda Super Sport 65 motorcycle is still at Wilshire. It was in my basement for 30 years. Darren’s had it fixed and ready to go for three years but I haven’t gotten around to getting it yet.
Speaking of that cycle, I drove it for the first time on Elk Street. I had no idea how to handle it; went right up the curb, raced across the sidewalk, and hit Jensen’s stone wall. Then I went flying right into their bushes. Fortunately, the cycle and I survived.
I used to frequent 2nd St. businesses all the time. Buffy’s Lampoon. MugShots. Big Moon Saloon. Joe Mama’s. Butters. Elbow Room. Also Frank & Ernie’s and Kim’s Barrel Inn. Gotta love the Square.
As a kid, it was fun fishing in the river behind Pagel Mill at the west end of Arlington Place. Woody Keene says that Arlington used to be “Mill” Street. And Normal Ave. on the northside became College Avenue.
I’m pretty sure Nelson Hall is on Reserve St. across from Old Main. Dave Kopperud and I used to play wiffleball on the Nelson Hall’s tennis court. “Dave the Rave” usually won 1-0.
The Black Bridge is on the west end of Wisconsin Street. It’s supposedly haunted.
Bukolt Ave., of course, leads you into Bukolt Park, where we loved to catch perch in the lagoon.
Here’s one I could never understand. The root beer stand was at the north end of Water Street. Right across Clark St. is the Top Hat, but Top Hat isn’t on Water Street. It’s on 3rd Street. And if there’s a 3rd Street, where’s 4th Street?
I guess Point has a Bobby Lane. I never heard of it, but Bobby Layne was a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback.
I will always remember Clark St. because of The Shack. It was a dumpy little bar next to the American Legion that I was in once. January, 1969. Super Bowl III. Jets and Namath upset the Baltimore Colts. (By the way, that was the first game to “officially” be named the “Super Bowl”).
You could do a whole story just on Main Street. Hash browns at Main Street Café. Major Eddy at the Fox. Herbie at Osco Drugs. The bands at River City Diner. Frosty soda at Westy’s. Eleanor the great waitress at Woolworth’s. Garth Whitaker at the Sport Shop (great little league manager). S&J’s Palace. The Lyric. And on and on.
If you drive on Ellis, you’ll notice Emerson School isn’t there anymore.
Illinois Ave. will always be the hospital. Michigan Ave. always brings to mind the Rec Center and P.J. Jacobs. Northpoint Dr. means Sentry and SPASH, and Strongs Ave. is the courthouse. My former Pointer neighbors played hockey at Willett Ice Arena on Minnesota Ave., and the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints practiced drills on the football field behind Willett. Brigg’s St. was where you could find Sorenson’s Floral.
I don’t exactly know where Vern Holmes Dr. is, but I knew Vern Holmes. Vern was an executive at Sentry and a really classy guy.
I can’t tell you a thing about Henrietta, Matilda, Gilkay, or Meadow. Skipp’s is on Park, and so is the Congo (that’s Congress Club). The Congo used to have great chicken dumpling soup.
A church IS on Church St., the country club IS on Country Club Dr., and the railroad station is on Depot Street. Not sure if there’s a Della St. but Perry Mason’s secretary was named Della Street. Also, East St. is not even close to West Street.
And how come there’s a Plover St. in Point but there’s not a Point St. in Plover?
Be that as it may, the above streets and avenues are local streets etched in my memory. It was a fun tour of the city. If you have a favorite street, feel free to let us know about it and we’ll pass the word.
But geez, if you’re ever in a marching band, keep an eye out for sewers.
Tim “Shoe” Sullivan can be reached at [email protected].